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THE PALM-HOUSE IN KEW GARDENS.
Previous to the erection of the Crystal Palace, the PalmHouse in Kew Gardens was regarded as an uncommon wonder, as in reality it was, and as in fact it now is. It is constructed with similar materials and on the same architectural principle as the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace contained some of the richest productions of art, the Palm-House contains some of the richest productions of nature. No one should visit London without visiting Kew Gardens, and whoever does so will ever remember the Palm-House.
It was erected in 1845, from the designs of Mr. Decimus Burton, under the directions of the Commissioners of her Majesty's Woods and Forests. This vast structure, which is chiefly composed of wrought-iron beams and glass, consists of a rectangular central part, one hundred and twelve feet six inches in length, and one hundred feet wide: with projecting wings, each of which is one hundred and twelve feet six inches long, and fifty feet in width : the entire length is three hundred and sixty-two feet six inches in the clear. The height of the central portion is sixtythree feet, exclusive of the lantern, which rises six feet; the height of each wing is twenty-seven feet to the bottom of the lantern above.
The general form is curvilinear. The main ribs are constructed of deck-beam iron, welded together to the length required, forty-two feet, and bent to the necessary curve. These ribs are twelve feet six inches apart, and foot into cast-iron sockets let into enormous blocks of Cornish granite, upon a foundation of concrete, and are braced together and strutted by wrought-iron tierods, passing through tubes of cast-iron that act as purlins, and form a continuous tension-rod around the edifice. The upper ribs foot into strong cast-iron hollow columns, which also receive the upper part of the ribs of the lower roof, and become the bearers for a gallery
surrounding the central part, the ascent to which is by a spiral staircase of iron.
The entire glazing is composed of sheet glass, slightly tinged with green by oxide of copper; that tint having been chosen in order to counteract the injurious effects on vegetation arising from the scorching influence of the solar rays when transmitted through white sheet glass, which had before been used in most stove-houses. The long continued series of experiments on the properties of glass, of different colours and manufactures, which led to this arrangement, were made by Mr. Robert Hunt (keeper of the Mining Records in the Museum of Practical Geology), to whom, on the recommendation of Sir William Hooker and Dr. Lindley, the subjeet was referred by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
Due ventilation is provided for, by the rolling sashes in the roofs, and vertical sashes hung on centres at the level of the gallery, and in the lanterns; fresh air can likewise be admitted through the panels, of the stone pedestal of the superstructure. The flooring between the surrounding stone footpaths is formed of perforated castings, each about four feet square, supported on wrought-iron bearers and castirou uprights. The house is heated by hot-water pipes, the apparatus being calculated to maintain a temperature of eighty degrees when the external air is at twenty degrees of Fahrenheit. For this purpose, twelve boilers (from the patent of Messrs. Burbridge and Healy) bave been fixed in two vaults under the house ; and twentyeight thousand superficial feet of heating surface in pipes, tanks, and troughs, laid beneath the whole of the flooring, a distinct set of pipes being supported by each boiler. The vaults communicate by a tunnel five hundred and fifty feet in length, with a lofty ornamental tower, at a short distance from the house ; which conceals the chimneyshaft into which the flues are carried, and also contains a large reservoir near the top for the supply of water to the stove. Within the tunnel is also a railroad, for the purpose of conveying coals to the furnaces, and carrying away the ashes.
The cost, exclusive of the shaft, tunnel, &c. was £30,000. The foundation and stonework were constructed by Messrs. Grissell and Peto; the superstructure and heating apparatus by Mr. R. Turner, of the Hammersmith Works, Dublin.
THE LITTLE CLOUD.
1 Kings xviii. Amongst the most encouraging incidents of the answers to prayer is one in the life of the Prophet Elijah, which is as follows :
Three years and a half had elapsed since the heavens had sent forth a drop of water to the thirsty land of Israel, when Elijah, having prophesied that rain was about to fall, retired with his servant Elisha to the top of Mount Carmel, near the brook Kishon. Whilst there in calp solitude, he humbly cast himself down upon the earth before God, and silently prayed for the bestowment of the promised blessing, with a firm conviction that his prayer
would receive a speedy answer. Immediately he sent his servant to the summit of the mountain, to “ look out toward the sea,” in order that he might know if there were any appearance of rain. In obedience to this command, the servant went up and looked; but, instead of there being any sign of rain, as he in all probability thought there would be, he found the sky as blue as ever-not the smallest speck of anything was visible. The calm sea in the bright sunlight, lay out-stretched in its tranquillity for miles, far before him; he looked above, and around him in every direction, but, alas ! there was Lothing that appeared which would encourage the slighest hope of any answer to the Prophet's prayer; so he was obliged to return to his master with the dispiriting exclamation, “ There is nothing." Elijah was one not easily to be discouraged, but a man of much faith and strong confidence: he knew that his petitions had been granted often before, and that God's "ear was not heavy that he could not hear.” Therefore, in patient waiting, he bid his servant “Go again seven times." The servant went, again and again, but there was no sign of rain yet visible. The Prophet, however, did not despond, but continued praying. And by this period, the servant was returning the seventh time, but not, as before, with the discouraging news that there was “ nothing ;" ah, no! this time there was something-what was it? He was bringing joyful tidings. “Behold," says he," there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, lik a man's hand.” This was sufficient for the Prophet; it caused him immediately to give directions to meet the violence of the approaching storm, and, “ in the meanwhile, there arose a great wind.” And the little cloud which had just been seen in the distance, grew larger and became blacker, until it covered and hid altogether the blue sky from their view,-then fell " an abundance of rain," and the parched ground was refreshed; the heart of the Prophet was strengthened, and he was enabled to go on his way rejoicing, with a prospect of abundance, and confiding more and more in the faithfulness of that God in whom he had trusted.